Star-Spangled Banner - ATTACK ON FT. McHENRY

ATTACK ON FT. McHENRY (Illustration) Awesome Radio - Narrated Stories Biographies Famous Historical Events Famous People Geography Social Studies Nineteenth Century Life American History

On the 13th of September, 1814, ships of the Royal Navy began their bombardment of Ft. McHenry at Baltimore Harbor (near Washington D.C.).  The events took place during the War of 1812 (sometimes called the "Second War of American Independence").  This painting—by LTJG (Lieutenant Junior Grade) James W. Murray, USN (U.S. Navy)—depicts the artist’s impression of the night-time scene which inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star Spangled Banner." Image online via Naval History & Heritage Command (NHHC image NH86765). Click on the image for a better view.


The attack on Baltimore and Fort McHenry began on September 13th. Aboard the British ship, Key watched the battle.

The British were using a new type of military bombshell that exploded into deadly fragments. Traveling 2½ miles, those "rockets" produced red streaks in the night sky.

Ft. McHenry held on through most of the night. Key could see its fifteen-star flag as the rockets lit up the sky. It was a huge flag, measuring thirty by forty-two feet. Major Armistead had ordered it that way so the "British would have not trouble seeing it from a distance."

Key could see it from a distance, too.

The continued shelling, between both sides, gave Francis Scott Key hope. He figured as long as the battle continued, Ft. McHenry was resisting and Baltimore could be saved. For twenty-five hours the British bombarded the fort.

But then, sometime during the night, the shelling stopped. All was quiet.

Had McHenry fallen? Did the British break through to Baltimore?

Key did not know. He could not see anything. And ... he was worried.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Sep 01, 2002

Updated Last Revision: Sep 14, 2015

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"ATTACK ON FT. McHENRY" AwesomeStories.com. Sep 01, 2002. Feb 20, 2020.
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